Meteor's Marla Sokoloff knows why we love watching the world end

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

It's up to Marla Sokoloff (The Practice) to save the world in the upcoming NBC miniseries Meteor. That's because a giant meteor named Kassandra has been struck by a comet and knocked out of its orbit. This thing is three times the size of Mount Everest and it's hurtling towards Earth. Showers of meteorites are destroying cities, no matter how many the military intercepts with missiles.

In Mexico, scientists Imogene O'Neil (Sokoloff) and Dr. Lehman (Christopher Lloyd) are the only ones who know the trajectory coordinates, and they must get them to the military before Kassandra destroys the planet.

[Note: Spoilers follow.]

Sokoloff told SCI FI Wire a bit about her role. "She's an incredibly smart scientist, who I was incredibly pleased to play. She's handed the very tricky task of saving the world." Imogene loses her mentor, Lehman, early in the story, and she's forced to make her way to JPL Labs in California by herself, in an increasingly militarized world.

She comes up against almost insurmountable obstacles, including being nearly raped in a Mexican police station. "That was definitely my hardest day ... these were actual stunt guys that they cast ... they weren't actors, and they were really tough. We had a safe word, because we wanted them to actually make me uncomfortable."

There are some big names in the miniseries, from Lloyd to Jason Alexander, Stacey Keach and Billy Campbell. Sokoloff talked about working with the star of Back to the Future. "It was insane. My very first day of work was with Christopher Lloyd, and I just remember feeling ... so intimidated and awestruck, but so impressed with how sweet he was. He's such a nice man, and really funny. ... I was actually sad because he didn't get to stick around very long."

Disaster films seem to be pretty popular lately, and Sokoloff speculated why. "I think there's just a general panic that has filled the world as far as natural disasters. Living in Los Angeles, you're waiting for the big earthquake, more fires and whatnot. And I think people, if they have four hours to sit and watch a disaster movie, kind of take their minds off the reality of their lives. ... People obviously have the desire to watch them."

About whether this could really happen, Sokoloff laughed, "I try to not even think about that, but evidently, yes, this could happen, and don't come calling me when it does, because there's nothing I'm going to be doing except for hiding somewhere with my dog."

Meteor airs Sunday, July 12 and 19, from 9 to 11 pm on NBC.